ELMONT, N.Y.--The New York Racing Association, Inc. announced that the opening of the Belmont Park spring/summer meet will be delayed due to the continuing impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Highlighted by the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes on June 6, the 51-day Belmont Park spring/summer meet was originally scheduled to begin on April 24 and conclude on July 12.
"We are working closely with the New York State Gaming Commission and public health officials to determine a timeline for the resumption of live racing at Belmont Park," said NYRA CEO and President Dave O'Rourke. "The health and safety of our racing community is paramount, and any decisions or necessary adjustments to the racing schedule and operations must reflect that priority. I'd like to thank New York's horsemen and the backstretch community for their dedication and patience as we navigate these uncertain times together."
WITH REGARD to the 2020 Belmont Stakes, NYRA is continuing to assess various options in consultation with all appropriate parties. Currently scheduled for June 6, these options include shifting the race to a later date.
"The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution and American tradition," said O'Rourke. "We are committed to running the race in 2020 and aim to deliver an announcement in the very near future."
Beginning on April 17, and with specific approval required by NYRA, trainers previously stabled at Belmont will be allowed to ship in horses who have been relocated during the COVID-19 crisis.
To align with health department guidance and reduce the spread of the coronavirus, NYRA will not allow these outsider shippers to be accompanied by staff not previously working at Belmont.
The Belmont backstretch, which is home to 585 workers who tend to the essential daily care of the more than 1,300 thoroughbreds currently stabled on the property, has remained open to horsemen and operational for training.
Owners are not permitted access to the backstretch until further notice.
Live racing on the NYRA circuit was last conducted on Sunday, March 15 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Big A winter meet was scheduled to run through Sunday, March 29 until NYRA suspended racing on March 19 due to changing circumstances in the racing community relative to the coronavirus pandemic.
On April 1, NYRA announced the cancellation of the remainder of the Aqueduct winter meet as well as the Big A spring meet, which had been scheduled for April 2 through April 19.